“Europeans go shopping with their eyes”. In the Old Continent, design still ranks among the most influential factors in buying, and it was with this idea clearly in mind that Toyota’s management launched the project for the third generation Avensis, its mid-upper segment saloon. Naturally, being a Toyota, content had to be no less important than appearance, so engineering and innovation played key roles in its inception.

The two previous iterations of the Avensis provided a solid base on which to work, explained Assistant Chief Engineer Akira Matsumoto, who was entrusted with the job of describing the project at the international launch of the new car in Milan, Italy. “The 1997 Avensis was the first D segment Toyota developed specifically for Europe. The second generation however, launched in 2003, represented a significant quality breakthrough. With the third Avensis, we needed to raise the bar, positioning the car even further up in the segment.”

To create Toyota’s flagship for Europe, it was decided that the majority of the project was to be conducted locally. This, however, did not preclude close collaboration with Toyota’s homeland: at the start of the programme, a group of 35 engineers from Toyota Motor Europe and its main suppliers packed their bags and set off for an extended visit to the Aichi headquarters to lay down the outlines for the project.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 174

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